The only people busier than the bartenders at last week's opening of Sanctuari Bar at Triniti were the valets. Were there more people pouring through the front door than cocktails into glasses? It's entirely possible -- by 8 p.m., after our media preview had ended, the new bar space was wall-to-wall with patrons, wait staff were carrying glasses on trays held high above the crowd, and the valets were playing a pretty intense version of Tetris in the parking lot.
If you haven't been to Triniti in a while, Sanctuari Bar is certainly a good reason to return. A newly redesigned bar and lounge--courtesy of Dennis Brackeen Design Group--transforms the space, with a leather banquette and slipper chairs providing cozy seating at low cocktail tables that practically beg you to show up early for your dinner reservation.
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The cocktail menu is positively staggering, with dozens to choose from in a variety of categories: "Drink Me" is a collection of original cocktails developed by the full team, while "Sunday School" is geared for the designated drivers among us. (Thank you for that!) Classic cocktail lovers should peruse the "Communion" menu to see old favorites (Hemingway, margarita, gimlet, martini) reconstructed with a Triniti twist. The "La Bichon"--Aylesbury Duck Vodka, quinta de la rosa ruby port, lemon, and fresh strawberry--is as smooth and sexy a cocktail as I've ever tasted, while the Earl Gray-infused "The British Are Coming" offers layers of flavor that reveal themselves slowly, forcing you to sip and enjoy slowly. (Thank God, because this one goes down too smoothly.)
Each time Beverage and Creative Director Laurie Sheddan Harvey stopped by the table to drop more drinks there were a lot of food writers sharing sips and groaning with pleasure. The deep, complex flavors that make the drinks taste so effortless takes an incredible amount of work. "We spend a lot of time in the kitchen," grinned Harvey as she dropped off my bubbly Provence 75 that features both crème de violette and St. Germain for a taste that closely resembles heaven in a glass. Harnessing her own background in chemistry, and a staff full of cocktail lovers, has resulted in a menu that is distinct and personal. It's fun to imagine Harvey and her staff cooking up syrups, infusions, and tinctures in the restaurant kitchen--almost as fun as drinking the results.
And it's not just all about the cocktails at Sanctuari--the makeover of the lounge transforms the "restaurant bar" into its own distinct space with its own identity. The long, low, leather banquettes offer ample seating, and the small cocktail tables slide easily together to create room for a group; high-tops offer additional seating, and of course you can always sit at the beautiful, lit-from-within bar that's been at Triniti from the beginning.
Sanctuari Bar at Triniti is a masterful little reinvention that will change the way you think about the restaurant--and probably your favorite cocktail, as well.